18 May 2008

MOZART: Le Nozze di Figaro — Salzburg 2001

Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro): Opera buffa in four acts, K492

Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte after Beaumarchais’ play La folle journée, ou Le mariage de Figaro (1784).

First Performance: 1 May 1786, Burgtheater, Vienna.

Principal Characters:
Count Almaviva Baritone
Countess Almaviva Soprano
Susanna her maid, betrothed to Figaro Soprano
Figaro valet to Count Almaviva Bass
Cherubino the Count’s page Mezzo-Soprano
Marcellina housekeeper to Bartolo Soprano
Bartolo a doctor from Seville Bass
Don Basilio music master Tenor
Don Curzio magistrate Tenor
Barbarina daughter of Antonio Soprano
Antonio gardener, Susanna’s uncle Bass

Setting: Aguasfrescas near Seville, the Almavivas’ country house

Synopsis:

Act I

A half-furnished room in the castle of Count Almaviva

Figaro's satisfaction at the location of the room assigned to him and his prospective bride, Susanna, is shattered when she points out that the Count (who has done away with his hereditary right to the first night with any bride on his estate, but regrets it) has designs on her and the location of the room will assist him.

Marcellina plans to marry Figaro, who has signed a contract promising marriage if he is unable to repay money borrowed from her, and Bartolo is eager to be revenged on Figaro by assisting her. Cherubino tells Susanna that the Count is sending him away because of his amorous inclinations. He hides behind a chair as the Count approaches. Susanna tries to avoid the Count's advances. He hides behind the chair when Basilio appears, and Cherubino hides in the chair. Basilio warns Susanna that the Count will be angry if she encourages Cherubino and the Count emerges from hiding and discovers Cherubino. The Count accepts the praises of his servants, led by Figaro, but postpones the crowning of Susanna as a bride. He assigns Cherubino a place in his regiment and orders him to leave at once.

Act II

The Countess' bedroom

The Countess is sad because her husband neglects her. She joins in Figaro's scheme to disguise Cherubino as Susanna, who is to agree to an assignation with the Count, who can then be caught in the act. But the Count arrives unexpectedly. Cherubino hides, but betrays himself by knocking something over. The Count is ready to break down the door, but when he goes to get tools, Susanna lets Cherubino out and he jumps from the window, and she takes his place, surprising not only the Count, but the Countess, who takes her time about forgiving her husband for his suspicions.

Figaro comes in to announce that all is ready for the wedding, but is confronted by the Count, who knows it is Figaro who has written an anonymous letter telling him the Countess will be receiving a lover in the garden (part of Figaro's elaborate plot). Antonio, the gardener, arrives with the complaint that someone jumped from the window into his garden. When Figaro claims that it was he who jumped, Antonio produces a paper which dropped from Cherubino's pocket, challenging him to idenfity it. With the assistance of the women, he does so - it is the page's commission. Marcellina, supported by Bartolo and Basilio, arrives to press her claim for Figaro's hand, as he has no money to pay her back.

Act III

A big drawing room

Urged by the Countess, Susanna pretends to agree to an assignation with the Count, but he overhears her telling Figaro of the success of the plan.

Marcellina and Bartolo arrive with a lawyer to demand that Figaro fulfil his contract, but it is discovered that he is the long-lost son of Marcellina and Bartolo. Susanna boxes Figaro's ears when she sees him embracing Marcellina, but explanations prove satisfactory to all except the Count, who storms out.

The Countess laments her sad life with a faithless husband. She gets Susanna to write him a note agreeing to a meeting in the garden, sealing it with a pin which is to be returned as his answer. Peasant girls, including Barbarina, Antonio's daughter, and Cherubino, whom she has dressed as a girl to hide him from the Count, bring gifts to the Countess, but the Count and Antonio appear and unmask Cherubino. The Count is about to send Cherubino away, but Barbarina, reminding him of promises made when he was making advances to her, successfully asks for Cherubino as her husband.

There is a double wedding ceremony - Marcellina and Bartolo as well as Susanna and Figaro. Susanna slips her note to the Count. Figaro is amused to see him prick his finger with the pin, but does not realise the note is from Susanna.

Act IV

The garden, at night

Barbarina, entrusted with taking the pin to Susanna, has lost it, and Figaro learns that it was Susanna who wrote the note. The Countess is to take Susanna's place in meeting the Count, and they have changed clothes. Marcellina warns Susanna that Figaro is hiding, planning to trap her, and she sings an alluring love-song, intended for him, but which he interprets as being directed at the Count. Cherubino makes advances to the Countess, under the impression that she is Susanna. Susanna intends to be revenged on Figaro for doubting her, but he penetrates her disguise and turns the tables, pretending to believe she is really the Countess and making love to her. Explanations and reconciliation ensue and, realising that the Count is listening, they resume the apparent love scene between Figaro and the Countess. The Count summons everyone to witness his wife's disgrace, ignoring pleas for mercy. He is silenced when the Countess herself adds her plea and in turn asks her forgiveness, which she grants.

[Synopsis Source: Opera~Opera]

Click here for the complete liberetto.